Depending on the type of business you run, the person you choose to be your brand ambassador could vary hugely. You might choose a famous blogger to sing the praises of your range of accessories or you might choose a racing driver to represent your car care products. Whatever the type of person you choose, they can help you grow your digital presence, make more sales and build your brand but you've got to do it right.
Set your goals
If you want to launch into a new country then you'll want an ambassador to represent you there. If you're launching a brand aimed at a specific demographic, you'll need an ambassador who falls into that group and is a trusted personality within it.
You'll also want to look at budget and return on investment. If you want to reach a new audience of 100,000, you'll need to look at what potential ambassadors can offer and how much it might cost you. You'll also need to think about what you want an ambassador to do, most will come to you with their own ideas but have a clear picture in your head of how you can work together so the partnership is clear from the beginning.
Choose the right person
If you're a little clothing company in Brussels you're probably not going to be able to afford Kim Kardashian as a brand ambassador, because yes, these things do cost. Of course, you could send products out to her in the hope that she falls in love (there is a chance) but the likelihood is that your clothes will just get lost in the hordes of designer wear she gets sent on a daily basis.
Aim for a brand ambassador that shares an audience with you, who can reach the people you'd want to sell to. Go into the first stage of contact with a budget in mind, some people might simply accept free products to give them a mention on a blog or over social media but for more involved ambassadorships, you will have to pay.
Bring your ambassador into the company
Your ambassador should be an extension of the brand, they'll know it inside out, will have met your staff and will enjoy being part of the working family you've built.
Jordan Hosmer, Marketing Director at Goodpeople.com works with a number of brand ambassadors. He said: The ambassadors that offer the most value are those that feel connected and are eager to contribute. We offer the chance for them to participate in brainstorming and voice their opinions. Generally, when they contribute they get more connected and passionate about our brand. We have established requirements for them to post images, but ambassadors who care about our brand don't have to be reminded to share about us, they just want to.”
Racing driver Rebecca Jackson, who is a brand ambassador for Turtle Wax, said: “Despite it being such a large company with a presence all over the world, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much of a family affair it still is. I joined the brand and its distributors at Automechnika in Frankfurt and met the daughter of the original founder, they struck me as such a welcoming, friendly group and appeared almost smaller than their global presence would suggest – in a good way. It felt like I’d been welcomed into their family.”
Have a plan
Brand ambassadors can be as involved as you want them to be. Your relationship could be as simple as a few tweets per month in exchange for products or you could be flying your ambassador around the world to represent your brand at events.
To get the most out of this kind of partnership, outline a plan for them so you get the most for your money. You should also ask ambassadors to pitch ways they think would make the relationship more beneficial for everyone.
Think outside the box
Social media content, the odd blog post and lots of great photo and video content are fantastic ways to reach more people through your ambassador's influence. However, it's the truly unique activities that really get people talking.
Hot laps around a race track with the local press, speaking engagements, cookery classes, and road trip challenges can all help to generate a buzz around your business. Play to your ambassador's strengths and contacts too, and perhaps even ask them to come up with a few interesting ideas for events and stunts.
Add value to what your ambassador does
If you can provide something that truly helps your ambassador, they're going to be even better placed to talk about the benefits of what you do.
TV star Denise Welch is a LighterLife Fast ambassador who has found great success with the products. She said: "It is so exciting to be part of a company who have created the very first product for 5:2 to be sold on the British high street! The Fastpacks are so convenient – they take all the hard work out of 5:2 which means no more planning what you are going to eat and no more calorie-counting on your fast days. It is simply a really easy way to make intermittent fasting part of your lifestyle."
If you can find an ambassador who will really benefit from your products, it's going to be natural for them to share what you're doing.
The trick to working with a brand ambassador is to bring them into what you do and treat them as part of your company. If they know the brand inside out, they'll be better placed to promote your products and services.
Jess Shanahan is a marketing professional and motorsport PR working exclusively with professional race team Team HARD. She works closely with the team’s roster of 30 drivers – all potential brand ambassadors – and sponsors to get the most out of each relationship. She can be found tweeting @Jetlbomb.